You may have noticed I love tweaking old faves with different flavours and this was no exception.  Bolognese has always been a staple in our house, particularly in the colder months as there is nothing quite as enticing as the scent of garlic, onions, herbs and mince simmering in a rich tomato sauce.  Throw a bit of bacon into the midst and the hoppy smells of a good beer and wow!  New heights on the bolognese scale were most certainly reached!!

Prep time:  20  Minutes              Cooking time:  45  Minutes (minimum)            $  Low Budget

Serves 4-5

500gm of your choice of pasta, cooked to packet instructions (I used Orecchiette)

Olive oil for frying

500gm of lean beef mince

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 large brown onion, peeled and diced

10 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

6 short rindless bacon rashers, finely sliced

1 cup of good quality beer (I used a craft pale ale)

1/2 a cup of beef stock

400gm of chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup of tomato paste

1 tsp of sugar

Sea salt and pepper

2 tbs of Italian parsley, finely chopped (I used a blend of micro herbs)

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling and freshly grated parmesan to serve

To make the Bolognese, heat a large frypan to a nice high heat and fry the bacon until almost crispy.  Remove and set aside.  Add a little olive oil to the same pan and fry the onions until soft before adding the garlic and thyme.  Fry for a minute or so and then crank up the heat to brown the mince.  Break the mince up with a wooden spoon and once the mince is browned all over and any liquid has evaporated return the bacon to the pan.  Pop in the bay leaves and pour in the beer and allow the liquid to reduce for about five minutes before adding the beef stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar.  Season well with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a nice gentle simmer.  Cover with a lid and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  The longer the better in my book.

Remove the lid, have a taste and adjust any seasoning.  Continue to simmer for approximately 15 minutes until the sauce is nice and rich.  Drain the cooked pasta and toss the pasta through the sauce.  If the sauce is too thick just use a little of the pasta water (a couple of tablespoons) and thin it out slightly.

Divide the Bolognese pasta between serving bowls and sprinkle over freshly grated parmesan, chopped parsley and a nice lug of good extra virgin olive oil.  Nom nom.

Like the addition of beer?  You might like to try this beer recipe too…..